When patients hear the word “cancer,” confusion and panic may start to set in. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, it’s important that you stay informed and understand medical processes. This can help you take control of your diagnosis and treatment, and recognize any potential issues.
Even the best physicians get things wrong. They may miss a diagnosis, incorrectly diagnose a patient or fail to take certain signs and symptoms seriously, thus resulting in a delayed diagnosis. At the medical malpractice law firm of Schochor, Frederico and Staton, P.A., we have represented dozens of clients who have been victimized by misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis of cancer. We have two offices conveniently located in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington D.C. and are happy to answer any questions you may have about medical negligence.
10 important facts about cancer diagnosis
- Symptoms are the first indicator. Your doctor may order specific tests based on symptoms you present. The trouble is that some symptoms may be signs of a less dangerous condition, so a doctor might not think it is serious at first. If you are concerned, be persistent about being screened for all possible conditions.
- But symptoms aren’t always obvious. In many forms of cancer, the patient might not feel physically unwell. However, a physician may notice a mole that could be a melanoma or a lump in the breast that could be cancerous. Your doctor should thoroughly test every abnormality.
- Most tumors aren’t cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, most tumors are benign.
- But a biopsy is the first step. If your doctor suspects something, he or she will take a sample of the mass for further investigation. A biopsy should be done as soon as an abnormality is detected.
- Careful examination is important. Cancer is frequently diagnosed by an expert who looks at cell or tissue samples under a microscope. In some cases, tests are done on the cells’ proteins, DNA and RNA.
- Appropriate referrals are key. After cancerous cells are discovered, you should be immediately referred to a specialist, typically an oncologist who focuses their practice in that particular variety of cancer.
- Get a full range of diagnostic tests. Right after a tumor is found, it’s important to go for follow up testing to determine the shape, size, location, and other features of the tumor. An oncologist may order imaging tests, blood work, genetic testing, bone scans, an endoscopy, or other such tests to determine if the cancer has spread or remained localized.
- Go for a second opinions. Getting examined by another oncologist is very standard in a cancer diagnosis. Ask your doctor for a referral.
- Have lengthy treatment discussions. Different cancers require different treatments. Chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, clinical trials, alternative medicine and other options are available. It’s important that your oncologist describe the risks and predicted outcomes of each treatment option.
- You’re not alone. Many people have walked through cancer and made it out successfully to the other side. If you’re feeling alone, stressed, scared, and overwhelmed, ask your doctor to refer you to a support group or social worker. Remember to talk to your friends and family about how you are feeling.
If your primary care physician or oncologist fails in any way, you could end up with a worsening tumor or more serious medical condition. Timely cancer diagnosis is crucial to success in beating the disease. Patients who are concerned about the quality or their treatment or are concerned that their doctor made an error during the diagnostic process, speak with a medical malpractice lawyer for immediate assistance.
Contact a skilled medical malpractice attorney in Washington D.C. or Baltimore today
The law firm of Schochor, Frederico and Staton, P.A. employs a full team of experienced, award-winning medical malpractice lawyers. For more than three decades, we have represented dozens of medical malpractice victims in Washington D.C. and Maryland—and helped them obtain full and fair compensation for their suffering. To arrange a consultation, call our firm today at 1-888-234-0001.